What is a co-habitation agreement?
Co-habitation agreements are legally binding contracts that can protect both parties and help to create certainty in financial and property aspects of the relationship the event of a break-up.
What can a co-habitation agreement address?
Co-habitation agreements can provide for matters such as the division of property, lump-sum payment, periodic payments, for a party to have a reasonable opportunity to find alternative housing and temporary financial support following the break-up, and any other legal matter. The agreement can also address the end of the relationship due to death of a party (a Last Testament and Will is highly recommended as well.)
We have an "understanding" - isn't this enough?
Having an "understanding" or oral agreement about finances or property does not offer any certainty or protection. First, the agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties to even be considered by a court. Second, unlike in the situation of a divorce, the law provides very limited protections for the financial rights of unmarried parties who co-habitate if the relationship ends. Without a written agreement, at most, the law only recognizes the right of the parties to partition any jointly-owned property.
What about support or maintenance after break-up?
Generally, the law does not recognize any legal right to financial support for a party following the end of the relationship and cohabitation. Absent extenuating circumstances (this is a very case-specific inquiry), it is immaterial that the economic situation of one party may be markedly different from that of the other party; nor is it material that one party may have relied on the benefits of the other party's economic status and earnings during the course of the relationship and cohabitation.